Teens and young adults are often associated with rebellion, drugs, sex, and rock and roll. The rock-n-roll might remain, but plenty of young people across America can put those negative pictures to shame. From X-Games tough guys to Christian kids who descend on New Orleans for Jazz and Jesus, energetic young people, pumped with the love of God, present a Christianity that is full of life.
Some 30,000 teenagers gathered in New Orleans in late July to offer their help in service projects across the city. With a theme of "Jesus, Justice, Jazz," the kids, who had paid their own ways to get there, got involved in any of 150 community service projects. They helped clean up neighborhoods and painted schools, rebuilt homes and ran day camps for kids, racking up over 250,000 hours of community service. They also spent time in worship and Bible study in the process.
While not as loud as the thousands in New Orleans, 412 teens and their leaders gathered in Clare County, Michigan in late July to help the elderly and disabled by repairing or renovating their homes. Six-group crews of young people, supervised by adults, did work on 55 house sites. Clare County Enterprise Community Director Jerry Burger said,
"I have been to several of the sites and can say I am extremely pleased with the high caliber of work that these young people have done."X Games
Acts of service are great, but young people can glorify Christ in everything they do. The X Games were held in LA this weekend, and even in this tough guy arena, Jesus is being made famous.
Skateboarders and freestyle motocross riders live their lives on the edge, and in the past they've been known for being rebels and general bad boys. Within the past decade, a number of these radical young men have given their lives to Christ, and the mood about religion in extreme sports is shifting because of them.
Famous old-school skater Christian Hosoi (41) dominated in the Legends competition at the X Games competition in LA on Sunday. He was in his prime in the 1980s until drugs nearly destroyed his life. He spent five years in prison on crystal meth possession with intent to distribute. There, he gave his life to Christ and now travels the world as an evangelist.
"I was such a rebel against conforming to government or society because we skateboarders were so radical and we wanted to be outlaws." Now, Hosoi says, "I'm using my popularity, the history, my image and my accomplishments to preach the gospel."He's not alone. A freestyle motorcross riders group calling themselves the Metal Mulisha is heavy with born-again Christians. Brian Deegan – who has won more X Games freestyle motorcross metals than anybody - nearly killed himself in 2005 by crashing while attempting a back flip. After that gave his life to God. Pretty soon buddies from the Metal Mulisha were joining him for Bible studies. Deegan's not afraid to talk about it either.
"In the end I said, who's more radical than us?" Deegan said. "Everything we do is full-on. Once we went to church, we were full-on Christians, too. And we're going to go for it. On the mic, I'll say it. On TV, say it. The next thing you know, I have way more people pumped on me."Not all Christians in X Games are so bold, but ESPN a few years ago started receiving requests for clergy members to get the credentials required to accompany athletes into the games.
God is still at work in the hearts of young and old alike, and we need to remember to invest in our young people, to diligently disciple them and believe in God's desire to work His power through them. This world desperately needs their enthusiasm; we all do.
Some 30,000 Lutheran Teens Hit New Orleans for Jesus, Justice, Jazz - The Christian Post
Workcamp Teens Spend Week Helping Others - Clare County Review
Some X Games Bad Boys Turn to the Bible - The New York Times
Christian Hosoi On Top Again - Skateboarding.About.com